Friction can present itself in many ways in your organization. With the transformation of many workplaces moving towards more digital collaboration, friction has become an increasing concern. Friction in the workplace can be harmful to everyone involved and negatively impact job performance and productivity.

Digital or workplace friction needs to be addressed by employers to create a successful environment where employees can thrive. Digital friction is an unnecessary effort exerted by employees while using technology for work that can reduce productivity. What causes digital friction and interpersonal friction, and what can be done to help resolve these issues to ensure the business continues to be productive? 

The Impact of Friction in the Workplace

Digital friction can have a negative impact on your employee’s workday. It is often caused by more tools and applications, multiple systems to find and store information, and more communication channels than needed. Too many systems and tools can overwhelm employees, hindering focus and productivity. 

Communication with coworkers should be a straightforward process, but when every coworker is engaged in conversations through chat channels that may not pertain to them directly, it can be a stressor, especially when they are trying to focus on a particular task. While digital tools were created to help teams communicate, connect, and collaborate more effectively, they create an environment of unnecessary stressors.

How to Ease Digital Friction in the Workplace

Streamlining is the simplest way to reduce the impacts of digital friction in the workplace. Reducing the number of tools needed can ease frustrations and create a more productive workplace. Review your tools, apps, and processes and determine which are the most efficient and can continue to add value to your team. Once your remove anything unnecessary, you reduce the friction your employees feel in their day-to-day.

Interpersonal Friction in the Remote or Hybrid Workplace

Interpersonal friction is another type of friction common in many workplaces, and with the increase of remote work, it has become more of a challenge to overcome. Interpersonal friction is the conflict between at least two people within a team or organization. These conflicts can occur from poor communication, differing perspectives, or interfering with goals. It’s a friction that can also easily go unaddressed as it’s hard to identify with working in remote locations, and management tends to want to wait to address situations in person.

This animosity team members can feel towards each other can impact their work, productivity, and focus and directly impact their success. In any situation regarding interpersonal friction, it’s important to manage it as soon as it has become observable. Be vigilant in spotting potential issues such as changes in tone or body language during team meetings, whether through conferencing software or through calls. Ensuring the team has great tools for communication, without overloading the number of tools, to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively can help eliminate interpersonal and digital friction. Many modern platforms offer diverse modes of communication to help best fit the team member and the project. 

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